Monday, December 5, 2011

December 2011 - Ballarat

5 December 2011

Seriously, when I got off the plane, I couldn't understand some people!  I guess it doesn't help being in the country where it's so thick, but still I have to really focus to understand people! And I didn't think I had an accent at all! But I guess I was wrong.. everyone I talk to thinks I'm American??? whaaaa?? I say I'm from Adelaide, and they're like, but you have an American accent? hmmm I'm not sure how I feel about this... secretly I miss America alot! I love it there aye... but shhh..

This week has gone sooo fast! It's crazy!!
We had 5 at church yesterday with the sixth coming after Sacrament meeting so we couldn't count him. Our two baptismal dates aren't that strong, but it's ok, we set another 3 this week for the Blake family! They are solid!! They are soo excited! The father and mother and ninteen year old daughter.  Plus they have two younger ones, so I'm really excited for them! They are going to be baptised on the 31st of December. They have been at church the last two weeks and love it!  I'm so proud of the ward for embracing them!!   I was so nervous yesterday, because one of their daughters, who is 8, has a mild case of autism, her name is Bella.  During testimony meeting she was running around the whole chapel being so loud! Her parents weren't doing anything, as well.  I was praying so hard that no one would offend them.  It was amazing though! An older man took her, loved her and then took her up to the pulpit where she told her parents (our investgators) she loves them! The spirit was so strong, I was so glad! They are seriously so excited for their baptism!  They were sussing the font yesterday.. We were also able to give them a blessing yesterday!

We are getting more and more organised here.  I have learnt so much from the Assistants!  It was so good to go out with them!  The biggest thing I learnt was in Preach My Gospel (PMG) under 'Finding People' chapter 9. It talkes about talking to people.  Now, I feel I'm good at teaching 45 min lessons and really helping people understand, but I need to work on my 5 and 15 min lessons.  As missionaries (from PMG) "we are to teach simple restored truths".  I always thought because it's our unique message, but its "so the Spirit can testify that we are servants of the Lord".  It doesn't matter if people understand our message or not, that comes over time, but we are to testify of restored truths so the Spirit can work.  If people feel the Spirit and have a positive experience with us, they will invite us back and then we can work on helping them understand.  I thought it was awesome!  I'm really excited about implementing the things I learn!

We had another great week this week! We taught 12 other lessongs and 23 in total :P The zone is doing great!  I want you to know all is well!  I'm loving Ballarat and Elder Howard! He's the man!
Elder B2

12 December 2011

Our zone at the Australia Melbourne Temple

So glad to hear things went smoothly with leaving America... This week has been another super quick but awesome week! As much as I love exchanges, I hate them at the same time.. We were only in Ballarat 3 1/2 days this week because we had exchanges with the Zone Leaders in Footscray, a Temple trip and a follow up training with the President! All were awesome and it was cool to sorta see what the Adelaide Temple is like inside because its the same as Melbourne right?? But I have such a love for my investigators and we need to be in Ballarat too.  This coming week we are out of town two days with another two exchanges, one in Horsham and the other in Melton...

Going back to that exchange with the Zone Leaders in Footscray. We stayed there the night. In the morning we had some service planned but before that we had an hour of contacting. Miracles ayy! We spoke to 5 people plus chased down the postman on his little motorbike and got three return appts from it! Man I should be in Footscray.. haha jokes, but the work is pumping over there.. The other day I was at the Footscray station and has some spare time so I was just talking to people who I referred to the local missionaries, which resulted in them going to church yesterday in Footscray! loving life..

One of the miracles during the week:
We tracked into this lady called Ray Rumble. She has really strong beliefs and strong ties to the Church of England.  We have been able to teach her twice now. The last lesson was a really bold lesson and we were talking about authority.  We did it really well though as we asked her alot of questions about her baptism 67 years ago. We helped her realise that her authority has just come from man and wasn't valid.  This was a really huge pill for her to swallow though, as her husband and a lot of her kids had passed and she thought they were all saved beacuse they were all baptised.  Obviously we taught her Gods plan but she got way defensive as you would.  I was able to hold my ground though and relate it back to the Book of Mormon, saying she can find out if these things are true by reading and praying. We came back yesterday and she has read... but she was too scared to pray because she didn't want to know.  We were able to really soften her heart as we both were prompted by the spirit.  I said and did some crazy things that I never would of dreamed of doing if it wasnt for the spirit. But I was able to pray for her and then got her to pray after. It was such a solid lesson as she knew everything was weighing on this one prayer... the Spirit was so strong! About two seconds after she said 'Amen' the Sirit just peirced all of our souls! It was sooo strong! maybe evern stronger that when I prayed for myself?? It was such a testimony builder for me! she was nearly bourght to tears as your could see it in her eyes! but you gotta love prideful Australians.. She was trying to deny it... we helped her realise that was the Spirit. She just kept saying 'I dont know, I dont know'. She then said 'hmmm I'll get there, I'll get there'.  We left her to have a big think about everything and we're going to go see her again. We have a prefect fellowship person who is also a convert from the Church of England who will help us reassure her of this huge step in her life! We are really looking foward to seeing her this week and hopfully setting a date!

Things you see in the Australian bush!!
 We have a few we are hoping to set dates with this week.. the work is exploding here!
Ballarat.... they've found gold here before and were finding gold here now!!

All is well with Elder Howard! we are both working so hard right now are really earning our pillows each night!
Love Elder T Bennallack B2

PS. I've been reading the war chapters in the Book of Mormon lately with Alma and Helaman.. What's one of the biggest Christlike attributes? Personally I think its humility.. there are chapters and chapters in the scriptures repeating this over and over again! That whole pride circle! When we are humble, we are blessed and when we are prideful we are destroyed! My patriarchal blessing backs this up! The first and last paragraph warns me to stay humble! I need to continue to work on this, being humble... we read that there were hundreds of records kept in America let alone the world, but we have 531 precious pages of the Book of Mormon... Think about it, like a 5th of the book is dedicated to being humble as we read that pride cycle... Anyways, I thought it was cool.  That's just the biggest thing I get out of the scriptures at the moment.

19 December 2011
It saddened me to hear about Nana! I love her so much! Please send her my love!! She has been an amazing, positive infuence in my life! My prayers and thoughts are with her and you guys..

4-Wheel Driving whilst on exchange in Horsham

This week has been super fustrating.  We have a possible 9 baptismal dates that are slipping through our fingers because we don't have the k's to go visit them and we have been out of town... It's challenging having a limit on k's.. Ballarat is super big and hilly too, so it's just not effective to ride our bikes everywhere.  But we can drive to an area and then ride around the area. Also, we were only in Ballarat 3 days this week due to exchanges to Melton and Horsham!

Miracle of the week. 97 people at church yesterday!! That's a miracle! This week we have really focused on visiting less actives beacuse we realise that we need to strengthen our own members before reaching out.  Just like Nephi in Helaman taught his own people before converting the Lamanites.  Alot of less actives came! It was great, but at the same time there are huge issues in the ward... It's just an old ward and there is a bunch of clicks, but we're working on it.

I found a bread maker and a crock pot in the flat.. made a mean kangaroo pot roast last night and made my first loaf of bread.. it was sooo good!!

We have been getting really organised this past week with pin maps and we just finished going through the whole area book which hasn't been looked at for years. It's full of gold with investigators being dropped for no reason, just because missionaries were transfered.  We read through hundreds and have a lot of people to visit now. We have it all worked out in areas so if an appointment in an area falls through, we have someone we can see in the same area. (save on km's)
We are so looking foward to the next week...
honestly I know it's bad, but I couldn't care less for Christmas like I usually do, presents etc. like it's just another day out here in the mission.  It dosen't even go through my mind, but it is a great time of the year to teach about Christ...
Elder T Bennallack (B2)

25 December 2011 - Merry Christmas Elder T Bennallack:

Skyping with the whole family including Elder J Bennallack in
Besancon, France Lyon Mission.

Special Christmas phone call from Elder T Bennallack to his Nana to say a last goodbye to her..

26 December 2011
Heeeeeeeeeeeee's the birthday boy!!
50... That's awesome! I hope you have an amazing day! And an awesome party!!

BIG NEWS my companion has been transfered!!!! Well he's still here, but he got a call last night at 10:30 pm telling him to pack his bags. So it's crazy! We are way busy today packing then we're off to Wanterna again in the morning for transfers. I wonder who my new comp is going to be?
Exciting times, but at the same time I feel bad because he won't get to see the Blakes baptised. We saw them today and they told us there conversion process.  They are so solid! They have asked me to baptise them which is a real privilege... It looks like for this Saturday only the parents will get baptised because we want Bec, the 19 year old  to really have a firm testimony before she makes those covenants with God and as for Bella who is the 8 year old with mild autism, they want her to be able to understand better whats she's doing. So in time.  But the parents are really set and stoked.

Talk to you next week with my new companion... 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Australia Melbourne Mission - November 2011

15 November 2011
I arrived in Melbs no worries! The flight was great! I slept for 8 hours straight and I'm rearing to go!
The Mission President, President Lifferth and his wife are really nice! They were all waiting for us at the airport...
I have been assigned to serve with Elder Howard in Ballarat!!!  I'm really excited about this area.  There is a struggling ward there and I'm just excited..
Elder Howard is from Sydney and knows the Bennallack's up there..
All is well, talk soon! My P-day is Monday!!!

Elder Howard & Elder Bennallack
20 November 2011- BALLARAT
Yes I am in Ballarat.  My companion, Elder Howard is a really nice guy and we get along very well.  President said that he felt I needed to go to Ballarat after interviewing me. Elder Howard has already been here 6 months and he will at least be here another 2 transfers.  It seems that President likes to keep Elders in their areas for a long time, so I'd better get use to it here...

I've heard Ballarat is a really hard area.  There hasn't been a baptism here in ages and the last person baptised is less active.  We had Stake Conference this Sunday, so I still haven't met many from the ward, but I've been told that we only get about 70 to church on Sunday and somtimes it gets as low as 35.  So the ward is struggling alot, and there is nearly 100,000 people in Ballarat.  There is definitely some work to do here..

On a brighter side, I'm in a car here.  Most areas have a car, and we have the best flat in the mission apparently? It's really nice and plenty of room.. We have a dishwasher and all.. it's because Senior Sisters use to live in the flat, so it's way nice!

There is a booklet for Trainers now called 'The First 12 Weeks', so we're just going by that.  It's challenging but I know that the Lord has put me here for a reason.  He knows best, so it's all good.  I'm excited..
This is why I'm loving my mission:  I've been here three days and haven't wasted a single second.  The day after I got here, I set some goals with my companion to get things moving.  We called the Bishop, we met with him and called the Ward Mission Leader, then we met with him and the first counsellor.  That was good.  We are trying to get them really excited and make sure they know that they are really important to the success in this area.  I'm really excited to see what we can do here...

We then went through the area book and looked over dropped and past investigators and pulled out a bunch that didn't make sense why they were dropped.  So we established a list of people to go see and visit.  We are also encouraged to do an hour of 'fresh finding' each day which is tracting or talking to people on the street..

Country Victoria - this is Australia!!!
In 3 days, we have been able visit many people and establish 7 NEW INVESTIGATORS!!! hahah loving it! and teach 7 other lessons!! That's a record for the area! The past ages, they have been getting maybe 1 a week if they're lucky!   We visited a few people that have been on the fence for ages! Some for over a year.  I spoke to them  and found out their needs and concerns and was fairly bold with them.  I think we're making progress with them now.

But this is great!! Because of this hard work and following rules to exactness, we have had much success in the past few days which is really great for the area and Elder Howard! He is sooo excited for the work and we're both so unified about the work and area which is really important!

I've been trying to get members present during our lessons so we can gain a trust with the members as they see the way we teach.This has been great because we are starting to build positive feelings in the ward for missionary work!  This coming week is a big week! Alot of return appointments and setting foundations...
I love the Spirit so much! I been raving on about how important it is, but it is!!!

A cool experience happend yesterday.  We were just driving back from a lesson and we drove past this young lady running her dog.  The Spirit told me I had to speak to her. But I ignored it for a few hundred metres and then told my companion to turn around.  He thought I was crazy.  I was just being myself and spoke to this lady and told her I felt impressed to turn around and talk to her.   I turns out she dosen't believe in God at all, but she was really open to the idea and she told me if something was to come up in her life, she would definitely be open to the idea! loving it!! So we arranged an appointment and are seeing her in a few hours, even though its P-day.. I'm excited!!

Miracles are beginning to happen in this area!! I'm so excited! We have set a goal to baptise in this area during this transfer! We can do it! We have gone from having 3 stale investigators to having several strong  investigators..  It has been really physically demanding the last few days.  I'm spent, but very excited about the work!
Elder T Bennallack B2

Elder Bennallack & Elder Smith (from Firle Stake, Adelaide)
27 November 2011
What a crazy week!!!
In my District there are 3 companionships.. We have Melton and also Horsham, which is where Elder Smith (from Adelaide) is! I actually went on trade-offs with Elder Smith this week!  It was awesome! We got slammed way hard with tracting but he is a solid missionary! So I might see him a fair bit.
We have District Meeting each week but only with Melton because Horsham is too far away...

There was probably about 70 at church? And church was great! haha they chucked me in the deep end and made me the last speaker with the Stake Presidency there as well.. haha, I was to talk on 'the life of Christ'.  I think it went really well though, lots of people said they liked it.  
This Sunday we had 6 investigators at church!  I was loving it and they all loved it!! We're trying to break the 'personal bests' in all key indicators for each area. So we broke that one which was awesome.. the previous best was 4..  Speaking of key indicators, we have broken a few other records too which is great! I'm really trying to get to know the ward.

Because we weren't getting any dinner appointments I took the roster into Relief Society and told how we want to get to know them all personally etc, and now we have 4 dinner dates this next week, which is the maximum we can have.  We had zone conference this Wednesday and President told us he dosen't want us having dinner dates on Friday, Saturday and Sunday because that is the prime finding time.. soo I'm happy with my efforts!

My companion from the MTC,  Elder Hasson arrived on Wednesday, so I got to see him at zone conference! I'm glad he's here!

Michael hit the nail on the head when he said that investigators go just as fast as they come. We're really trying to get the pool of 20 investigators going, adding 5 newies each week and putting 5 on the back burner each week to keep it fresh.  Our golden investigator Amanda was dodging us. We went around to her house and I saw her, but she didn't think I did.. she was hiding.  ahh.. We were going to go over and set a date with her, but I think she must of read some 'anti' on the internet? Satan plays a hard game, just means we need to play harder..

We actually set 2 baptismal dates yesterday for the 24th of December with Lamourette, the daughter and Christian, the father.  They're a west African family that speak French.  I wasn't planning on setting a date, but the Spirit had other ideas.  It's a bit tricky teaching them, but it's ok.  We get Lamourette to translate to her father.  My few lines of French came out.. haha.. We also watched 'The Restoration' in French.  We're catching up with them on Wednesday to see if they have kept their commitments. I hope so because there is eight in the family :P 

Also, anyone can email me.. but I cannot reply to them, only family, but anyone can write to me :)

I did have to pay for a bike, but the way they do it, you just pay $75 and every flat has a bike and the bikes stay in the area..
I was on it the other day and we were speaking to some protesters.  We were actually on the News, I found out on Sunday... crack up!

I've had a really great week this week, highs and lows.. but I know every experience is making me a better missionary..  The Assistants are coming down for trade offs this Friday so I'm excited!! I'm excited to see what we can do here with Ballarat!
Elder B2

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Missionary Training Center - Provo

Wednesday, 26 October 2011
Elder Bennallack was met at the Salt Lake Airport by his cousin Ben, who took care of him and delivered him to the MTC!  Many thanks Ben!

Outside the MTC - Provo (no snow here!)
Elder T. Bennallack
Provo MTC
MTC Mailbox # 257
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604

The remainder of this blog will be excerpts from his emails, telling of his experiences and testimonies.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Eustiu ca Isus Hristos traieste!!
What an amazing time I'm having here at the MTC!!!!
This is the one week mark of me out on the mission! As you can see above, I'm learning quite a bit of ROMANIAN! I have two companions.. I'm in a threesome, with Elder Janke from Ohio and he's off to ADELAIDE!!! It's sooo awesome, he's like my long lost brother... with a really strong testimony, and my other companion is Elder Hasson from here in Utah, about 20 mins away from the MTC, he is off to Melbourne with me...

We have an amazing District Leader called Elder Kryton. He is a spiritual giant! He's 23, and he's a convert to the church and has been a member for 2 years now... He's off to  Melbs with us! I'm soo excited to have him in our mission!

We had been in the MTC three days and the Branch President called us into his office... he then extended the call to my companion Elder Janke to be a District Leader over another district.. The Romanian Sisters.. So now we have two districts.. We have to be with our District Leader and help him out wherever we can.  It's an amazing chance to learn from the sisters and to grow. It's also helping us become more organised trying to balance two districts.. I'm loving learning a little Romanian, it's a combo of Russian and Italian... above I said that 'I know Jesus Christ Lives...'

(I'm also learning alot of ASL (American Sign LAnguage) from the sisters.

Off to Australia!!
I have been here a week and feel so close to my Saviour! I really recognise the importance of Him in my life! Without the Spirit, I am nothing.. The main lesson we have been learning is to teach by the Spirit and listen!  Instead of just teaching ABC as you prepare your lesson plan, you need that balance of asking questions, teaching and testifing... We have been practicing truly listening to our investigators and then knowing the principles so well that we can personalise a principle to what the investigator is asking and needs..  We still need to remember that we're there with a purpose though, and that is to 'Invite others unto Christ by helping them recieve the restored gospel through Faith in Jesus Christ and his Atonement, Repentance, Baptism, recieving the gift of the Holy Ghost and Enduring to the End!' 

This is my purpose as a missionary! What amazing words! Everytime we are tired, we do pushups to our purpose...
It is amazing how powerful the spirit is, when your simply listen and the spirit works through you and the words come out of your mouth!

Sharing time in the MTC with cousin Elder Herrick (centre)
We have really been trying to focus on unity. Unity is so important when you teach..  but it's amazing as we listen to the Spirit we are all on the same wave length and we were all going to say the exact same thing, it's super cool... We have learned that unity is not yielding to your companion but yielding to the Spirit.. and when the Spirit wants you to speak, you open your mouth! We have had such amazing sacred experiences as we strive to follow this!

I've learnt soo much! 
I'm so happy!!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011
My birthday was amazing!!! It was so much fun!! Everyone was singing me Happy Birthday and then I got sung to in Sign Language.. loved it!

Also on flight details... I do fly out on the 14th.. so not even three weeks.. I think this is my last P-Day and email day until I'm in Australia? (so if you want to send me anything, makes sure I get it before the 14th :P) I fly out at 5pm and have a 5 hour layover with Elder Herrick and other Elders before I fly direct to Melbs at midnight.. I'll get there at 10:30am on the 16th... local time.  I'm flying with the 4 others going to Melbs..including my DL.

I've just learnt sooo much all week..
I'm just like a sponge trying to take it all in.. but taking alot of notes because I know I won't be able to remember it all, so I can continue to study outside after the MTC.
I've learnt all about meekness. Meekness is the ability to act, but not acting unless it is pleasing to God... just like Nephi in 3rd Nephi. The Lord gave him power to do anything, but that's because the Lord trusted him because he had amazing meekness!

Spiritual power is evident of your call!!  I've been doing alot of study on the Holy Ghost this week.  That's been my focus, because the Spirit is everything when it comes to missionary work.  We learn by the Spirit, teach by the Spirit and convert by the Spirit.  We're guided by the Spirit.. Everything is done by the Spirit.
I've really been trying to learn 'the language of the Spirit' which Elder Bednar said, "if you can master, then you will be successful in life, pretty much... in church, in your proffession and family life..."

In practicing this principle of really listening to our investigators and listening to the Spirit, I had a really cool experience this week!!!  We were role playing with the other Elders in the District, but we had to be serious.  I was a teacher and I was to commit the mock investigator to baptism. They were to say "not now.."  and then when I ask about concerns, they were to tell us that they 'didn't want to do this anymore and that they're over it....'  We then weren't allowed to say anything until prompted by the Spirit and the words are put into our mouths...
We had to pause, and really listen to the Spirit...

The Spirit in the room was amazing!! Sooooo strong as I paused... A few minutes went by, and then the words were put into my mouth.. Out of nowhere, I was asking my investigator about the Word of Wisdom..  if he had issues with the Word of Wisdom?!  It turned out, that's exactly what my mock investigators concerns were!! The Word of Wisdom!! It was amazing to see the Spirit work through me to discern thoughts!!! It was amazing!

I really try to put this principle into all my teaching now, to listen, really listen to the Spirit.  Pausing is OK, the investigator dosn't mind, and then really listening to the Spirit as the words are put in my mouth that will soften the heart of the investigator to resolve their own concerns...
I've been doing this all week and I love it! I love the Spirit!!

I'm finally getting used to the missionary schedule and I love that too!
Time is up, but I want you all to know I love you all!!  Not sure when I'll talk next, but I think it might be in Australia?

9 November 2011 - Letter (and photo's):
There was some bad news tonight.  Four Elders in our District of nine, including both of my companions, were re-assigned missions.  Two to Salt Lake and two to Alabama.  They were devastated, but it's because of visa issues though.  When they get their visas, they will leave the next day for Australia, but if they are in their new missions longer than six months, it will become permenant.
On a brighter note, I'm really excited to go back home and really teach 'real' investigators.  I feel like this has been the perfect amount of time here in the MTC..

Monday, 14 November 2011
Today is my P-day.  Because I leave the MTC later today, they let me email and do laundry etc. today.
I feel soo blessed for my experience here! The Spirit is so strong and I love the Lord on my side!
Two people can do anything... as long as that second person is God...
I had what they call 'infield orentation' the other day, it was a full day thing just taking us through things in the field.. I loved it! I was nervous.. but after that, I'm just excited! Excited to talk to people on the aeroplane... haha, really excited!
It turns out that they have set up this new program called 'the first 12 weeks', and it's for when I get to the field. I know I'll have my trainer for at least 12 weeks.  Hopefully we get along... haha!
Ok, so I can call family in the airport, so I'm going to get a phone card today and call you guys when I get to LAX... looking foward to talking to you all! love you lots! xxx  B2
Travelling cousins: Layover at LAX. 
Elder Herrick enroute to the Auckland Tongan Mission,
& Elder Bennallack to Australia Melbourne Mission

Elder Bennallack did call us from LAX.  It was sweet time spent talking to him.  He related to us how on the flight from Salt Lake to Los Angeles he was seated next to a young lady of about 19yrs.  She had just been visiting a member friend in Salt Lake but was not a member of our church.  Elder Bennallack then proceeded to teach her the first lesson to which she commented: "Why have I never heard this before?"  She gladly accepted a Book of Mormon.  Elder commented how he is amazed how the Lord has prepared people to hear the gospel and places them in our paths...

Farewell Elder!

The time rapidly came when departure became imminent.  All shopping has been completed with Tom & I having spent some great time together to get this accomplished, not to mention the lunches and Temple time shared together.

Last Sunday evening, our friends the Hansen's, kindly opened their home so we could hold a Farewell Open House for Tom, so he could thank members from our congregation and say goodbye.  Many of our good friends came and we were able to spend a lovely evening wishing Tom the best for the next two years.

Some of the members from our ward: Clement Park Ward, Columbine Stake

The last couple of days have been spent trying to pack bags to the exact weightage of 50 lbs each.  There seemed to be this elusive amount of 6 lbs that had trouble getting into Tom's luggage!  However, with a bit of arranging and rearranging, the task was accomplished and everything was ready for departure.

Medium steak and shrimp! Nice..
Last evening we had a really nice dinner out at the Texas Steakhouse and enjoyed amazing steak, followed by a quick goodbye skype call between Tom and his brother Mike in Brisbane.

A quick skype with Mike
Then it was time to meet together with a few friends at the Stake President's home.  President LeDuc spent some time interviewing Tom for one last time and then he was set apart as a Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to serve in the Australian Melbourne Mission, or whatever area he might otherwise be assigned to, for the next two years.  It was a powerful, personal experience that only helps to bring a great peace and assurance that Elder Bennallack is now in the Lord's hands.  All will be well with him. Congratulations Tom, we are very proud of you.

Elder Bennallack with President LeDuc..

...and Bishop Smith..

...Kelland Hansen..

... 'besties' Sarah & Tom..

....and Mum
5.00am Wednesday (this morning) came all too soon.  And the beautiful, balmy 'Fall' or Autumn we have been experiencing for the past few days was contrasted with about 4inches of snow that had fallen overnight.  Gone are the golden leaves, replaced by a chilled world of white.

Elder Bennallack leaving 'home'.
We made sure we left early, unsure of the road and traffic conditions to the airport.  Denver International Airport (DIA) usually takes about an hour to get there, but we still managed to arrive in good time and all bags were checked in OK.  The problem was not so much the missionary requirements, but the American condiments and goodies that were deemed very necessary for survival in the coming future!!

Once checked in, the security area was before us all too soon, and this is where we needed to part ways.  It was suddenly heart wrenching as realisation hit, that although this is a wonderful, important step in Tom's life, we won't see him again for two years. 

Bye..Take Care... Love you...
Elder Bennallack however, was happy and excited to enter this next phase in his life.  All the very best Tom, you will be in our prayers every day and you know that we love you deeply..  This for you, will surely be the 'Best Two Years!'

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Call to Serve

Tom had a personal goal to submit his papers to serve a mission, at the earliest time which is four months prior to his nineteenth birthday.  And so it happened, he was able to submit them to his Bishop, three days after receiving the Melchizadek Priesthood, and four months exactly before his birthday.  This also coincided with our much planned road trip to Southern California.  As anticipated, Bishop received notice that a call to serve had left Salt Lake City early on the second week of our travels.  By the Thursday, Tom & Sarah flew back to Denver while Rick & I started the long drive back, stopping overnight in St George, Utah with our good friends the Jensen's.  By mid afternoon, Tom called to say it had arrived at Bishop Smith's!!  We arranged to all meet there, family and friends, when Bishop was home to enjoy this experience together.  Rick & I made good time and arrived back in Denver with a couple of hours to spare, and were able to organise for his sister Karlie and her family in Adelaide to be on the phone, and his brother Mike in Brisbane to be on skype!!

This is another most choice experience we have been able to share as a family! The opening of a letter from the Prophet with a call to serve as a full time missionary! 

"Elder Bennallack, you are hereby called to serve in the AUSTRALIA MELBOURNE MISSION!"

Tom reading his call out, with Karlie on the phone and Mike on skype!

The gathering at Bishop Smith's to share the moment!
L-R Back: Kelsey Mercer, Rick, Donna Mercer, Conlan Reardon, Kelland Hansen & Bishop Smith
Middle: Caden Mercer, Paige Mercer, Michelle & Sarah
Front: Tom and Taylor (Skippy) Tripp.
How wonderful, how exciting, and how right it felt for Tom to be called from America back to Australia.  Congratulations Tom! 

Tom's date to report at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, is the 7th of December, 2011.  Rick and I were glad this was before we leave Denver, which is the 11th December, but immediately saw a problem regarding his current visa status.  In short, because myself, Sarah and Tom are dependants of Rick, we cannot stay in the USA if Rick leaves the country.  So Tom would either need to attend another MTC or enter on a different date.  Rick phoned the missionary department who understood completely, and due to the six week transfer process, Tom now needs to report a transfer earlier on the 26 October 2011.  This means he will have his birthday in the MTC, but there are no visa issues at all..  WOW!

Meanwhile, we were able to travel to Upstate New York, visit the Sacred Grove and Palmyra and then explore New York City itself.  What a wonderful opportunity it was to visit these places. Missionary shopping commenced in New York City, with the purchase of a suit from Macy's! 

During this time of preparation, the Denver Temple closed for two months for some major renovations and updates.  Tom's cousin Elder Mitchell Herrick was arriving in Utah with his dad to also attend the Provo MTC, so early September, Rick & I drove with Tom to Utah, stayed with our kind friends the Welch's, so Tom could receive his endowment in the Temple and share this time with extended family!  Again, we were blessed with a rich experience together as we attended first the Salt Lake Temple, then in the following days, the Jordan River Temple, the Oquirrh Mountain Temple and the Mount Timpanogas Temple.  What a wonderful time spent in the temple along with his cousins and Uncle Jamie.

Viewing the SL Temple from the Joseph Smith Memorial Building
L-R: Ben, Tom, Jamie, Elder Herrick, Michelle & Rick

Outside the Mt Timpanogas Temple
L-R: Tom, Philip, Mitchell, Jamie
Front: Kaylee & Michelle
This time of preparation has gone be very quickly.  Missionary shopping that took place in Utah continued here in Littleton, and finally, I am satisfied  Tom has all he needs.  Looking good!

According to our now family tradition, we were able to spend time together in the Baptistry of the Denver Temple, the four of us.  This was another lovely time.  And in the final week before departing, Tom was able to work in the Denver Temple participating in all the areas available to patrons.  What a wonderful week it has been. 
In Sacrament Meeting at church, Tom gave a wonderful talk on faith and shared a beautiful testimony of Jesus Christ and shared his strong desire to serve Him as a missionary.  I'm afraid there was alot there with misty eyes, (especially me!) We are proud of you Tom, and wish you all the very best as you serve in the Australia Melbourne Mission.  You are a great example to us and we love you deeply.